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Bill Cosby, Greek Tragedy, and Yet Another Tabloid Scandal

Even on a day full of news of grave international import, the most compelling story here in the United States was probably comedian Bill Cosby being convicted on three counts of sexual assault. The tale is tawdry enough for tabloid fare, but it also involves complicated matters of race and class and sex and celebrity and various other downright vexing aspects of American culture, and you’d have to go back to the days of classical theater to find a more riveting tragic fall from the heights to the depths of human existence.
Even if you’re one of our several non-American readers or slightly more numerous under-30 American readers, you’re probably aware that Cosby was once a much beloved entertainer in this land. He was handsome and humorous and endearingly humble, his home-spun observational comedy had a familiar appeal to just about anybody. He had best-selling comedy albums, appeared on all the network variety shows, went on to co-star in a hit television series, had a Saturday morning cartoon, made some popular movies, starred in an even bigger hit television series, was a well-paid pitchman for various sugary foods, and earned the nickname of “America’s Dad.”
He was black, too, and of course that is unavoidably involved in Cosby’s rise and fall. His best-selling comedy albums and variety show appearances and prime-time co-starring role in “I Spy” were civil rights breakthroughs back in the ’60s, and both black and white audiences felt good about it. Cosby had ghetto cool, but he was not at all threatening, which white people appreciated and even the most burn-it-down sort of black radicals in the ’60s didn’t mind. He played an inner-city high school teacher in a fairly popular television show in the ’70s, then had a runaway hit with “The Cosby Show” in the ’80s playing a physician married to a lawyer with a cast of lovably mix-upped sit-com kids in a ritzy Philadelphia neighborhood. Some black and white critics complained that Cosby was presenting an atypical slice of black American life, but far more black and white fans praised him for an aspirational portrait of America’s possibilities, and he parlayed his popularity into a lucrative career in commercials.
As he got older and richer he gradually retired from show business, but he became more outspoken in his political opinions. The Temple University graduate and up-from-the-ghetto success story spoke the usual civil rights rhetoric about white racism, but he more frequently preached the importance of education and frankly stated that the middle class values of both black and white America were superior to the social pathologies of the black and white ghettos, and for the first time in his career Cosby was controversial. By the time rumors that Cosby was a serial rapist were widely circulated, it was because of the edgier black comedians sharing what was long regarded as common knowledge in show biz circles, along with some of the edgier feminist white comediennes, and after 60 or women had gone on record alleging that Cosby had drugged and molested or raped them Cosby wasn’t getting the same sort of support that O.J. Simpson enjoyed in his race and sex and class trial for a double murder he sure seemed to have committed.
When Cosby faced his first indictment a couple of years ago celebrity still had its California privileges, and the trial ended in a hung jury. The second time around the judge allowed an extra four of those 60 of Cosby’s alleged victims to tell their stories, which were unsettlingly similar to the complaining witness’ tale, and by then countless women had brought down numerous Hollywood and news media and political big shots accused of lesser outrages, and the guilty verdicts on all three counts of sexual assault surprised no one. No one rallied around the once-beloved entertainer, and neither will we, but everyone had some sense it was nonetheless a damn shame.
Cosby used to be an undeniably funny fellow, but his classic routines with their universal home-spun verisimilitude will never again sound the same. His classic sit-com about a classy American family will look too different for any future late re-runs, too. Cosby’s hectoring arguments about the superiority of middle-class values to ghetto pathologies are still valid, as far as we’re concerned, but they obviously now lack Cosby’s previous moral authority.
It’s good news, we suppose, that most black Americans no longer rally around even a sold-out-to-the-man sort of brother the way they once did with the odious and obviously guilty and already convicted wife-beater O.J. Simpson, although we worry that’s at least partly because they resented Cosby’s more sensible advice. It’s good news, too, that all those undeniably victimized women out there are getting some righteous payback on their victimizers, but we expect that sooner or later they’ll ruin some innocent fellow’s life. We note that some of the right-wing talk radio hosts who routinely stand accused of racism are among the few sympathizing with Crosby, but they’re usually suspicious of even the most credible women’s allegations that some powerful man has abused them, and they don’t deserve any credit for the opportunistic color-blindness.
It’s a damned shame, too, that such a handsome and humorous and seemingly humble fellow as Crosby, who did so much to enrich America’s culture, was also such a seriously flawed human being. By now we’ve read enough Greek tragedies and tabloid scandals to know that’s how things go, though. We’ll hold out hope that Crosby and his victims and the American culture and the rest of humankind continues its fitful pace forward, and that we all find peace somewhere along the line.

— Bud Norman

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The Latest Skirmishes in the Race Wars

Two more black men were fatally shot by police this week, this time in Charlotte, North Carolina and Tulsa, Oklahoma, and both communities suffered from the rioting and looting that now routinely follows these incidents. The initial news reports were once again inconclusive, all the same arguments regarding law enforcement and race in America were once-again re-hashed, both major party presidential nominees once again weighed in, and by now there’s a numbing familiarity to it all.
This time around the initial news reports out of North Carolina appear exculpatory for the black police officer in a largely black police department with a black Police Chief accountable to a largely black-run municipal government who shot a reportedly armed and black-life-threatening black man, which didn’t seem to give pause to the rioters and looters and their “Black Lives Matter” apologists, while the available videotape and press accounts and even the official police statements out of Oklahoma suggest that the black man shot by a white officer was unarmed and no imminent threat to the bevy of officers who had surrounded him, which somehow resulted in what seems to be a slightly more restrained round of rioting and looting than occurred in North Carolina.
By now we’ve learned to await further reports before reaching any tentative conclusions about these recurring things, and to be grateful that our tentative conclusions don’t settle these matters. The established facts that the shooter in North Carolina was a black man and that the one in Oklahoma was a white woman are deemed irrelevant in our rightward-leaning court of opinion, and we expect that the leftward-leaning sorts will have their own self-interested reasons for dismissing such information, so the rest of the autopsies and witness accounts and physical evidence and press reports will eventually be more or less resolved and then quickly forgotten. How this affects the presidential race, much less the way this objectively undeniable problem of police shootings and subsequent rioting is either resolved or brought to its unbearable conclusion, is also beyond our powers of conjecture.
The initial reports out of Oklahoma are bad enough that even proudly pro-police Republican nominee Donald Trump said he was “very troubled” by the video he’d seen, and rambled out a stronger anti-police case than we’d make at this point, while Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was “Tweeting” her shared outraged with even the North Carolina rioters and looters, even if her more expansive later comments made clear that she wasn’t in favor of the random attacks on white people that resulted. Perhaps she’ll be able to rebound by noting how Trump has tentatively presumed guilty a woman who has her own story to tell, and perhaps the North Carolina situation is more complicated that it seems and both candidates wind up looking silly in their premature pronouncements about it, but for now it seems his supporters won’t mind that he prejudged a white woman and with her prejudgment of a  black man she looks to come out slightly worse from it in this crazy election year. This is no way to judge a case, of course, but there you have it.

— Bud Norman

On Race, Gender, Class, the Olympics, and Of Course Presidential Politics

The 2016 Olympics won’t wrap up until some sort of bizarre post-modern samba-dancing and gender-bending closing ceremony on Sunday evening, but already the American team is assured of heading home with by far the biggest haul of gold, silver, and bronze medals. America’s athletic dominance of the international games has provided a pleasant distraction from the dispiriting domestic presidential election, but of course these days it’s impossible to keep the two events entirely apart.
Over at the reliably liberal Politico.com site a longtime Democratic operative is smugly noting that Republican nominee Donald J. Trump hasn’t yet spoken or “tweeted” a single congratulatory remark about the American champions, reasonably inferring that it’s because their success seems to contradict his campaign theme that “Crippled America” just “doesn’t have victories anymore” and he alone can “Make America Great Again.” The author also rightly notes that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has been a far more full-throated rooter for the American squad, and has happily seized on the politically convenient fact that the medal-winners are an exquisitely diverse group according to the racial and sexual and economic class categories that are a Democratic obsession.
A proportional share of those gold and silver and bronze medals have been won by American women, a gorgeous lot of athletes who recall the great Walt Whitman’s poetic notion of an American womanhood as “tann’d in the face by shining suns and blowing winds, their flesh has the old divine suppleness and grace, they know how to swim, row, ride, wrestle, shoot, run, strike, retreat, advance, defend themselves,” but we wonder how many of these women who are “ultimate in their own right — they are calm, clear, well-possessed of themselves” are going to vote for Clinton’s campaign themes that women are victims of American society and she alone can make them great. One of our favorite Olympians of this leap year has been Kim Rhode, who picked up her fifth Gold medal in as many Olympic games for skeet shooting, a sport we have tried and found we have absolutely no talent for, like us she’s a Second Amendment absolutist with no intention of voting for Clinton, and even that Democratic operative at Politico.com concedes that America’s Olympic champions are “presumably as politically diverse as they are culturally.”
Economic class plays its usual role in these Olympics, too, but we don’t expect that any Democratic nominee would want to delve too deeply into that. We’re pleased to note that Great Britain is once again a world-class sporting power, and is currently going nose-to-nose with Communist China for a distant second-place in the medal count, but across the pond there’s usual grousing that too many of those medals are being won by equestrians and rowers and fencers and other sorts of upper-crusty athletes, even if they can’t explain why their more yobbo athletes can’t compete with America’s ghetto stars in the more proletarian events. A lot of America’s medals were won by the sons and daughters of upper-middle class suburbanites who woke up early to get their kids to a swim club or volleyball practice before a long day of school that yielded high grades and SAT scores, and there’s no telling how they’ll vote, and even the sons and daughters of the working class parents who did the same are probably politically diverse.
Over at the reliably Republican National Review, which is so reliably Republican that it’s still NeverTrump, they’re smugly noting that America’s overwhelming Olympic success has come despite the lack of a Ministry of Sports or any other top-down bureaucratic central planning. They argue that America has won “bigly” at these Olympics because individuals of all races and sexes and classes were free to pursue the natural talents they alone knew they possessed, and that such independent and competitive institutions as the members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association were there to provide some much-needed assistance. This strikes us as a more compelling argument, and we can only wish that the Republican nominee wasn’t so cocksure that only he can make America win again that he can’t be shouting “USA, USA” during the closing ceremonies.

— Bud Norman

Too Darned Hot

The latest alarming claim made by the climate change alarmists is that everyone’s sex life will suffer as a result of anthropogenic global warming. Their theory seems to derive from an old Cole Porter song, which famously observed that “According to the Kinsey Report, every average man you know much prefers his lovy-dovey to court when the temperature is low. But when the thermometer goes way up and the weather is sizzling hot, Mister, pants for romance is not. ‘Cause it’s too, too, too darned hot.”
The movie version of “Kiss Me Kate” has it “according to the latest report,” as any mention of Kinsey was considered too racy for ’50s audiences, even though the Ann Miller dance number is still somehow sexier than any obligatory big-name nude scene Hollywood has since filmed, which goes to show how the cultural climate is continually changing, but it’s still the same basic idea that the global warming alarmists are peddling. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research’s report, if our more conservatives readers will forgive our mention of the “N word” and the “B word” in the authors’ name, hot weather does indeed lead to a diminished “coital frequency.” The authors found that when the thermometer goes way up and the weather exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is more specific than Cole Porter ever was, a significant decline in births shows up nine months later. This is a bad thing, according to the authors, who seem less concerned about a resulting worldwide crankiness from such diminished coital frequency than with the more easily quantifiable economic consequences.
All of which strikes us as peculiar, somehow. The climate change crowd is the same radical environmentalist crowd that has been openly yearning for a Gaia-saving decline in the human population for years, and they’re the same more broadly liberal crowd whose outspoken enthusiasm for exclusively non-procreative sex has not been diminished by the inevitable effects it will have on their beloved Ponzi scheme entitlement programs, and they don’t typically concern themselves with economic consequences. We note that the authors are also predicting an increase in air-conditioning sales, with a resultant increase in electrical use, which should have a salutary effect on the gross domestic product yet alarm the true believers, so the public relations strategy behind this latest alarming claim isn’t at all clear.
As much as we hate to ever disagree with the great Cole Porter, we’re also unconvinced of the claim that it’s ever too darned hot. Certainly not at a mere 80 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the sunrise temperature around here for most of the summer, when the women are most scantily dressed and Roy Orbison’s rendition of “Pretty Woman” seems to be playing in every man’s mind as they walk by, and if you’re waiting for the temperature to drop below a mere 80 degrees Fahrenheit it might be when the days grow short as you reach September. That’s here in the middle of the prairie, too, not on the more romantic beaches of Rio de Janeiro or the French Rivera or Paul Gaugin’s topless Tahiti, and we notice that even in the most war-torn and un-air-conditioned hellholes of the Middle East the birthrates remain high enough to have lately posed a problem for all those northern Europeans who are somehow reproducing at lower than replacement levels.
Judging by the content of your average hit sit-com or beer commercial, or even a half-century-old Ann Miller dance number, it’s going to take some significant warming to cool the public’s ongoing enthusiasm for sex. Paying the carbon taxes they climate change alarmists want to impose on top of the ones that were already there to pay for all those Ponzi scheme entitlement programs, and then picking up the tab for the sudden exodus of half the overpopulated warm-weather countries to the inexplicably infertile north, not to mention all that “yes mean yes” negotiating that the colleges and the feds are now insisting on, will probably discourage a high birth rate more than an 81-degree day ever did, and it might even interfere with all that non-procreative sex.

— Bud Norman

Walking Down the Street Toward Civilizational Decline

Call us old-fashioned fuddy-duddies, or say that we’re newfangled feminists, but we have long held to the opinion that a woman should be able to walk down a public street without being subjected to the most boorish sort of behavior by men. We had thought this would not be at all controversial, with conservatives who decry the coarseness of our popular culture and liberals who take a preening pride in their concern for women finding rare room for agreement, but apparently this is not so.
Judging by the reaction to a widely-viewed hidden-camera video of a day in the unhappy life of a woman pedestrian trying to deal with the frequent unwanted attention and overtly sexual remarks and occasional threatening actions of passersby, the notion that she or any other woman is entitled to more civil treatment by her fellow citizens is either the worst sort of left-wing grievance politics or a right-wing racist plot. The video was produced by a group calling itself Hollaback, which is dedicated to the eradication of what it rightly calls “street harassment,” and has stirred up quite a fuss. More people have viewed it than tune into even a highly-rated network sitcom, pundits from across the political spectrum have weighed in, and typically illiterate comments with non-stop capitalization and an abundance of exclamation marks to emphasize the writers’ seriousness have proliferated across the internet. Thus far the vast majority of opinion, from all ideological sides, seems to be that women should not only accept such rudeness on the streets but learn to like it.
The “progressive” version of this absurd argument is based on the uncomfortable facts that the woman in the video appears to be white and most of the boorish and obnoxious men she encounters appear to be black or Latino. This is enough for Brooklyn Magazine to declare that “the audience is supposed to be, namely, those who seek to protect and defend white women, aka the already existing power structure.” At The Daily Dot the headline was “Thousands of satisfied racists are sharing that viral cat-calling video.” Someone at The Root found the video reminiscent of D.W. Griffith, which was not meant as a compliment to its innovative cinematic technique bur rather a complaint that “some of the video’s intentional choices seem to play on the ‘Birth of a Nation’ trope that white women simply aren’t safe from sex-crazed black and brown men.” The venerable commie rag The Nation found the video “deeply problematic,” and suggested a remake starring “say, a black trans woman.” Not to be outdone, the fashionable internet magazine Salon sought to imbue the rude remarks and sexual innuendo with righteous truth-to-power political significance, writing that “This kind of harassment can be a way marginalized groups talk back to the white gentrifiers taking over their neighborhoods.” There have also been frequent references to Emmitt Till, the young black man who was lynched in the Jim Crow-era south for making untoward remarks to a white woman. The behavior shown in the video is less common among white collar workers or in the suburbs where they live, so there’s the all-important class angle as well.
This outcry has been sufficient to elicit an apology from Hollaback for not including more boorish and obnoxious Caucasian men in the video, complete with an unconvincing claim that by some extraordinary coincidence technical difficulties rendered most of the white guy footage unusable, and we will concede based on our own observation that boorish and obnoxious men come in all hues. Still, we think it’s all hooey. Much of the liberal commentariat seems willing and even eager to stipulate that such boorishness is more common in black and Latino neighborhoods, as it allows them to defend the behavior on grounds of cultural relativism or ethnic authenticity or whatever the prevailing academic theory might be, even as they fault the filmmakers for not adhering to a strict quota system. The idea that a group that adopts such a hip-hoppy name as Hollaback and couches all its arguments in feminist rather than chivalrous lingo is aiming for an audience of aged rednecks rather than the modern urban woman is ridiculous, as is the notion the modern urban woman is hoping for a racist lynch mob to come to her rescue. If Brooklyn Magazine yearns for a future power structure that does not protect and defend certain women because of their race, and if The Nation truly believes that, say, a black trans woman has a more unassailable right to walk down a public avenue without being harassed than a natural-born white woman, and if Salon actually means to imply that men have a right to enforce racial segregation and prevent economic improvement in their neighborhoods by making a woman of another race uncomfortable on the streets, then all are peddling a strange brand of “liberalism” that is both immoral and unworkable in a working society. Nor are we convinced by arguments that a certain behavior is acceptable because white collar suburbanites don’t do it, no matter how strenuously they are stereotyped as sexual repressed Republicans. Certainly none of these arguments can explain why the unfortunate woman in the video should endure such outrageous remarks from men she has never given any offense.
Race and class will always trump gender in the liberal trinity of holy causes, so such nonsense is to be expected, but we have been disappointed by the reaction on the right. Two of our favorite destinations on the internet are Powerline and Instapundit, and both were dismissive of the Hollaback group’s complaints. The former characterized the behavior seen in the video as “friendly, flattering, inappropriate, or, in one or two instances, creepy, although never threatening,” while the latter dismissed it as a “first world complaint” in comparison to the far worse conditions faced by women in areas controlled by the Islamic State. Rush Limbaugh had an uncharacteristically ambiguous take on the video on his popular radio show, taking pains to correctly point out that the black and Latino New Yorkers depicted are most unlikely to be Republicans or part of that party’s alleged “war on women,” but his callers had no sympathy for the women no matter the political affiliations of her tormentors. With all due respect to the imminent gentlemen at Powerline, we wonder which of the gratuitous comments about the woman’s anatomy they considered “flattering” and which were merely “inappropriate,” and how many minutes a thuggish-loooking young man must follow a woman in lockstep before it crosses that nebulous boundary between “creepy” and “threatening,” and whether the same standards would apply if it were their wives or daughters on those streets. Instapundit’s estimable Prof. Reynolds can be forgiven for chastising the feminist movements for its appalling failure to support its sisters in a third world that is somehow exempt from moral judgments, but wrong to suggest that women should wait until their circumstances degenerate to that level before voicing reasonable demands for civil treatment on public streets. Conservatives have been obligated to resist feminism’s unreasonable demands for so long that it has by now become an ingrained habit, but it’s a strange brand of conservatism that will justify the most boorish behavior of some of its political opponents rather than cede any rhetorical ground to others.
We were heartened to see longtime conservative standard-bearer The National Review give space to a young woman staffer’s plea for a more polite public square, as well as a thoughtful piece about the left’s inherent contradictions and the difficulty of addressing the problem through legal mechanisms, but were disappointed to note that most of the comments were as hateful and vile as anything you might find in a YouTube posting. In most cases the anonymous comments at any of the numerous sites posting the video seemed to have little to do with political ideology and much to do with bitter personal experience. The angriest men are obviously seething with resentment toward some pretty woman that they had futilely attempted to woo on a passing encounter, no matter how crude or clumsy their efforts might have been. The angriest women are openly resentful of the male attention the woman in the video attracts, despite the very unappealing nature of the men. There is much commentary on her physical appearance, as if a woman relinquishes a right civil treatment once her breasts grow so large or her buttocks attain a certain roundness, as well as her wardrobe, as if a very ordinary combination of black t-shirt and black pants has such an overwhelming effect on the male libido that it must be replaced with mandatory burqas to protect the women of indeterminate race and ethnicity underneath, and enough anger over unsatisfactory sex lives to fill a thousand hip-hop and heavy metal recordings. Much of it is expressed in the most vile language that the inarticulate writers can manage, and perfectly illustrates what we mean we speak of the coarseness of our popular culture.
All attempts to defend the men in the video in apolitical terms are also unconvincing. In some instances the intent of the remarks shouted at the woman are open to interpretation, and on some streets in America might be considered friendly, but in New York City that social compact has always insisted on what the sociologists call “civil inattention” and in every case the woman makes clear by her facial expression and demeanor that anything else is unwelcome. A remark about the buttocks of a unfamiliar woman might be intended as a compliment, but only by someone by too stupid and insensitive to give a moment’s thought to how it will likely be received. Such behavior might well be acceptable in the context of a black or Latino culture, but lynching black and Latino people for such behavior was once acceptable in the context of of southern cultures, and there’s an argument to be made that neither should be acceptable in the context of contemporary American culture. Some of those anonymous commentators seem to think that romance will vanish once boys are taught not to speak to unfamiliar women without permission, but we note that was the harshly enforced rule in the Romantic Age and content that “Hey, baby, nice ass” has rarely led to true love and family life and happily ever after. The oft-cited argument that boys will be boys is easily refuted by the fact that not all of us boys behave this way, and would fear the wrath of their pre-feminist Christian mothers and hairy-legged feminist ex-girlfriends if they ever did.
As much as we sympathize with Hollaback’s complaints about such boorish behavior, we can’t support its call for legislation to deal with the problem. Writing a law that distinguishes between a friendly “hello” and a more intrusive greeting, or takes into consideration the social standards of a small southern town and the crowded sidewalks of New York City, will ultimately prove impossible and will inevitably have a chilling effect on the freedom of more essential speech. What’s needed is the same sort of powerfully pervasive social stigma that was once used to discourage out-of-wedlock births and welfare dependency and vulgarity but is now only employed against racial slurs and any squeamishness regarding homosexuality. A solid coalition of pre-feminist Christian mothers and hairy-legged feminists and cultural conservatives and oh-so-concerned-about-women progressives could do much to ensure a woman’s right to walk down a public street without being subjected to the most boorish sort of behavior by men, but that seems unlikely.

— Bud Norman

A Second Front in the Culture War

There has been much discussion lately in conservative circles about the American culture and what should be done about it. The consensus of opinion seems to be that the American culture is a complete mess, and the country urgently requires a conservative counter-culture.
Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, author, and liberal apostate Roger L. Simon, in a column titled “Reclaiming the Culture,” urges conservatives to “quit bitching and start doing” by making movies, novels, music, and other cultural products of their own. Law professor Glenn Reynolds, the almighty “Instapundit” of the right side of internet, takes to the pages of the New York Post to call for conservative alternatives to women’s magazines such as Redbook, Cosmopolitan, and the Ladies Home Journal. The smart fellows at the influential Powerline web site second the notion, and pine for some sympathetic billionaire to buy The New York Times. Numerous other conservatives have expressed similar longings, mostly in conservative publications with exclusively conservative readerships that are cumulatively dwarfed by a typical audience for television’s lowest-rated offerings.
We wish them well, of course. Even the most obviously ruinous assumptions of liberalism permeate the popular culture, while even the most commonsensical concepts of conservatism are routinely ridiculed, and so long as this situation prevails political victories will hard to achieve. All that mindless conformity makes for monotonous and dissatisfying cultural fare, too, and we have no doubt that artists with a conservative sensibility could provide far better work if they were only given the opportunity.
Still, remaking a culture seems a daunting task. The liberals’ nearly total control of America’s cultural institutions, from the tawdriest cable channel to the toniest museum, was gained over several decades of steady encroachment and will take as long to be undone. Having so laboriously attained power the left will be reluctant to yield it, and the leftists well remember from their insurgent days what happens when the establishment allows dissent. Infiltrating the existing institutions is therefore almost impossible, and new organizations that arise to challenge them will be subjected to the most vituperative attacks.
Some especially thick-skinned artists will withstand the attacks, battered and bruised though they may be, but it’s difficult to see how they will compete with sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll in the current cultural marketplace. Contemporary liberal culture promises liberation from the sexual and social mores of the vanquished past in exchange for submission to governmental control of every other sphere of life in a utopian future, so any appeal to traditions rooted in personal responsibility and the harsh realism of the Judeo-Christian worldview will likely prove a tough sell. Sex, violence, and other titillating topics are all valid subjects for artists, and should be dealt with frankly, but the conservatives’ habitual concern with consequences will wind up taking the all the fun out of it for today’s audiences.
Conservatism requires complex explanations, too, and that seems to have no box office appeal at all these days. Much of the blame for this sorry situation lies with the educational establishment, dominated from the kindergarten classes to the doctoral programs by liberals, which seems to have lowered the country’s standards by literal and figurative degrees. Anyone familiar with the hit movies and best-selling books of the ‘30s has likely noticed that the movie-goers and book-buyers of that era had far more sophisticated tastes than today’s vastly more schooled audiences, and even the most credentialed critics currently holding forth so often seem to completely misunderstand what they’re talking about.
Perhaps that’s why the few conservative popular culture offerings that have gained any popularity in recent years seem to have done so with only a few sharp observers even noticing their conservatism. Mike Judge’s “Beavis and Butthead” was a withering satire of rock ‘n’ roll culture and his “King of the Hill” a sly celebration of rural working class traditions, but both were so cutting-edge hip they were taken for standard liberal television. The hit movie “300” extolled the virtues of western civilization’s martial spirit, explicitly enough to annoy all the critics, but its popularity had far more to do with its sleek look, copious violence, and homo-erotic costuming. At the other end of the cultural spectrum, writers such as Robertson Davies, Muriel Spark, Tom Wolfe, Martin Amis, and Evelyn Waugh have written devastating critiques of modern liberalism with such elegance and flair that they, too, are widely assumed to be liberal. We even have a friend who insists that George Orwell’s “1984” is a dark warning about what would happen if those Tea Party types were to gain power, what with their crazy notions about limited government and individual liberty and such.
Reclaiming the culture is going to be a hard chore, but the conservatives might succeed in slipping a few more works past the unnoticing censors.

— Bud Norman